Oprah: Room for one more TV network?


Oprah Winfrey, easily the most successful self-made business woman in the United States, has added one more piece to her empire with "OWN," the Oprah Winfrey Network. She's doing the cable network with Discovery Communications, and it's expected to launch in the second half of 2009. Discovery Health Channel will be converted into this new channel.

They say Oprah will be the part of the creative process for the channel, helping to develop topics and shows that are popular with the viewers of "The Oprah Winfrey Show." She's already got her talk show, "O" the Oprah magazine, and "Oprah and Friends," a station on XM Satellite Radio.

This cable television station will compete with Oxygen, a cable network that currently focuses on programming for women. Oprah was an early investor in that channel, but eventually reduced her involvement when she said that the channel didn't reflect her voice. The other major competitor in the arena of women's stations is Lifetime Television.

Oprah emphasized that OWN will not be just for women, but will try to reach a broader audience that includes entire families. I think it will be interesting to see how this plays out and how much this channel reflects what Oxygen used to be. There are a zillion channels available to viewers these days, so it's difficult to launch and sustain a new channel. Discovery says they're looking to bring stronger brand recognition to some of their channels, and certainly, aligning with Oprah is probably an excellent way to do that for at least one of their channels.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.